@Dr RayThis trip started in the planning about six months ago. The day before my son and I were to arrive in Darwin, I received a text to say the hunt was canceled. What!!!! Never rely on friends to organize things!
I was devastated but contacted other friends to see what they could do at such short notice. But fortunately, they could help. The day after the arrival at Darwin we visited a private property to see whether we could catch up to four “meat” buffaloes. Judging by the footprints in the mud, I guess we missed them by several hours. Damm!
The interesting thing was that we found a dead freshwater crocodile belly-up floating in the creek. There were no bite marks on it so we suspect it ate a cane toad and was poisoned. No we didn’t shoot it. Cane toads were introduced into Australia from Hawaii to eat cane beetles. Unfortunately they are everything else and have become a major pest, killing Australia’s wildlife.
The following day we walked into various areas where buffalo were usually. No luck! Try another area. Still no luck. The areas of scrub and open plains are horrendous in size and our host, Clint didn’t have a chance to scout ahead of our trip. The swamps were showing signs of a very big wet season and we were bogged on 1 occasion. We saw nothing for the first day at all other than a few wallabies.
The next day saw us checking a swamp area and its surrounding scrub. There were fresh buffalo tracks including the tracks of a small buffalo. The other tracks indicated that they were a number of dingoes in the area but all just kept going and going. We were thinking that we wouldn’t see anything.
We finally went to a dry looking scrubby area that had been burnt. Clint said that this area often had scrub bulls in it. We stopped the 4wd near a creek and heard a mooing sound – but only for a few seconds. I thought it sounded like a cow. For once, the wind was exactly right for a stalk toward the sound. We had a “fix” (coffee/tea) and then began the stalk after allowing the beast to settle down assuming it heard our arrival.
Chilli, the half dingo-cattle dog was excited to see wallabies but that was all. As we spread out to stalk toward where we assumed the beast was, my son, Craig, indicated that we had to lower ourselves and he whispered to me that there was a wild beast over there, pointing in the direction. Clint held Chilli to ensure she wouldn’t spook the beast while I swapped my 375 H& H magnum for the 270 Craig was carrying. Craig commenced his slow stalk.
He went from tree to tree and kept as low as possible utilizing the scrub to his advantage. The beast was facing away from us and feeding and the only movement was the swishing tail. I could not see the head of the beast as it was always feeding directly away from us. The wind was still right for the hunt (which is unusual but much appreciated). I could see Craig going from tree to tree and raising the 375 but then lowering as he was moving to his right and closer. The scrub was certainly hindering the stalk but, then again, it kept Craig hidden and camouflaged too. A very good point I must add.
After many, many minutes that seemed like hours, I lost sight of Craig who was slipping closer to the beast but to my right. I could see the beast feeding but still could not see the head as it was facing directly away from me and in shade. The only reason Craig saw it initially was due to the fact that he saw the movement of its tail. I now picked up Craig to my far right and he squatted yet again to try for a shot but stood up.
The beast was on to him now! AND, now I saw that it was no cow but a bull in prime condition. It was looking at Craig and I started to cycle the bolt on my Sako 270 topped with a Swarovski 3.5-18 scope. I thought if Craig’s not going to shoot, I will because the bull was about to run. Bang went the 375 sending the 300 grain bullet on its way. The bull fell heavily and I started to run toward the downed bull What now! The bull struggled to its feet and started to run!
I thought that he bull was hit very well and hard by the way he fell to the ground. The bull ran and then turned to face Craig who then fired again. Two hits and the bull ran but suddenly stopped to face Craig and then fell over. By now Clint, Chilli, Craig, and myself were at the bull. The first shot was a high lung shot and the bull, full of adrenaline, ran even with the second shot. Craig’s first shot was too high through the lungs and the second shot was too far back (a point he learned when he studied the bull on the ground).
Both bullets completely exited which was disappointing especially as Ridgewalker wanted to see the photos of the mushroomed 300 grain Nosler partitions. I had to buy factory loads and could not get the Woodleighs as I hoped in time. Clint went and retrieved his Hilux 4wd to drag the bull to a better location not far from where the bull had fallen. Clint set up a shadecloth for us and we began to butcher the bull. This took a long time and my back still aches (mainly from a spine injuring fall when I was 15). I am truly grateful that Clint could drive the Toyota to the bull because to carry the meat out was going to take a mighty long time (the understatement of the year).
The temperature at Darwin, even though it’s the “cool” season, was 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 F). Craig from Melbourne was finding it hard going because of the heat. The effort was worth it as we packed heaps of prime beef into the cool bins to transport to base. The dingoes would have dined well that night and maybe a few wild pigs as well. There was plenty of scraps for them and for a few nights I assume. Happy dining dingoes!
The scrub bull was a welcome hunt but obviously we really wanted a buffalo each. However, with short a short notice hunt, we are very grateful to Clint (and not forgetting Chilli).
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Buffy the 18 year de-sexed male buffalo.
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A freshwater crocodile found dead in a creek.
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Chilli the guide's dog. Chilli is half dingo and cattle dog. (Australian cattle dogs were bred from the dingo).
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A typical creek in the NT. Now, what could possibly hurt you?
Scrub and open "pockets" typical of the NT.
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Thick scrub which is, to say the least, difficult to hunt in.
Myself and son, Craig (with his foot on the bull) along with Chilli at the wild scrub bull.
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Myself photo-"hogging"`the wild scrub bull hunt. (LOL)!
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Craig and Clint the real hunters!
@Dr RayCertainly got a lot of beef. It’s just a pity the Noslers exited as I was keen to see the performance as in the mushroom and how they held together.
The NT is challenging to say the least. Ps my back is still aching from bending over cutting up the animal. I’m lying in bed typing this 9pm eastern oz time Tuesday)
In future I will take my Sako 338 Winchester magnum as a backup rather than the 270.
The way the bull looked at Craig just before the first shot was something I will never forget.
I think if Craig had been closer I’m fairly sure the bull would have charged.
Ridgewalker you and I need to hunt the NT!